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The Only Way to Paradise

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  31 reviews
What causes picture-perfect suburban Oakwood residents, MacKenzie, Roxie, Sara, and Georgia to desert their therapist fly off to Florence? Answer: A romantic Italian movie that prompts Roxie to ask: “If Italy is so healing and therapeoutic what are we doing in Ohio?”

Even Sara, the most duty-bound of the group, finally joins the pact they dub “The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood,”...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by O.W. Press
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Michele Ashman
What is that hard to define quality that makes a book memorable? Is it complex and interesting characters? Is it a captivating plot with unexpected twists and turns? Maybe it’s the setting and the “feel” of the book. Or, perhaps, it’s the ability to connect with the story, tap into that magical “relatability” factor that lingers long after the last page has been read.

Any one of these elements is vital to a story, but rarely do we find books that have all of these qualities. However, The Way to P...more

Author G.G. Vandagriff returns to women’s fiction with a flourish by the release of her new series, The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood (2011). With several notable and award-winning works credited to Vandagriff’s name, readers will relish this first volume, as they escape alongside the characters and indulge in all things Italian. Every writer would love to travel to the destination of their novel, and G.G. has done just that, enabling her to integrate the hum of Italian life as few others have. Spend...more
Susan Dayley
"Below the wall, Tuscany lay spread out like a scene from a fantasy or a dream. Leaning on the wall with her elbows, she marveled at the view as she slowed her breathing. Morning mist still threaded through the valleys of olive orchards and grape vines, penetrated by tall rows of the Tuscan cypresses that she loved. Harvests of some sort of grain had left many of the fields spread in rare Tuscan gold, blanketing hillsides that led up to a salmon-colored villa with the requisite red-tile roof. Ab...more
I loved this book, but it took me quite a while to retain the names of the women and keep them all straight. I don't think it was anything the author did, though. I was reading this on my Kindle, and I've noticed before that it's harder to keep up with the details of the story when I'm reading an ebook.

There is a lot going on in this book. Four separate stories and four almost-strangers learning about themselves and each other during a month in Italy. Each women embraces the artist inside while...more
Very cheesy and disappointing. Also full of errors - on a couple of occasions the character called Kurt is referred to as Ted! Not sure whether this is only on the Kindle edition or whether it was published without being proofed properly. I expected a lot more from what could have been a great story.
Debbie Wood
I did not enjoy this book much. Too trite. The characters were not believable and too "rich" for me.
May 24, 2012 Amy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amy by: May Book Club Selection ~ Linda
Shelves: book-club, nook

Boring and dull. The best part of the book was the setting.
Jenn (Booksessed)
This book was a little outside the norm of what I usually read. I sometimes have a hard time relating to women who are older than myself and have families of their own. It’s a foreign concept to me and I love characters that I can relate to.

At the beginning of the book, the characters were a little hard to keep straight. Their stories blended together really well. However, as the book goes on, the characters develop their own stories with new characters it was easier to keep track of her and I...more
Jenna St Hilaire
While Vandagriff's concept isn't new—it openly acknowledges its debt to Elizabeth von Arnim's 1922 novel Enchanted April—it's one that holds up to repetition with comparative ease. For myself, I preferred The Only Way to Paradise to the von Arnim novel, primarily because I actually liked the characters.

The combination of self-discovery themes and romantic foreign settings can discomfit as easily as it can thrill, depending on authorial life ethic. Most of us are keenly interested in gaining a co...more
A couple of month's ago I reviewed G.G. Vandagriff's book Cankered Roots which was one of her first books, today I am happy to review her latest, The Only Way To Paradise. After 11 books many writers begin to get a bit stale, G.G. is getting better!

I really enjoyed getting to know the ladies of Oakwood and found the details in both their past and present made me like them all. The large amount of time and energy that must have gone into making the ladies come alive on the pages comes out in how...more
Women’s fiction is not a genre that I read on a regular basis but I enjoyed the Crazy Ladies of Oakwood’s story. The characters, both as individuals and a group, are insanely strong, giving them a realistic feel. Each of their situations is easily relatable. Witnessing the transformation of each character as the story progresses is inspiring.

Vandagriff’s colorful descriptions of Florence immerse the reader in the Italian lifestyle and its people. The emotional qualities of The Only Way to Paradi...more
The only reason I read this book is that I lived in Oakwood, Ohio during my high school years. I was disappointed that the setting was in Italy. I have never been there, so I could not relate. Each of the 4 ladies are dealing with so much emotional trauma. It made me grateful for my family. This is not my favorite genre, so I am not so sure I will read more of the series. There were a lot of errors in the book. I am surprised it made it through the editing stage without catching those errors. Ba...more
THE ONLY WAY TO PARADISE by GG Vandagriff is an interesting women's fiction. It is a complex story with interesting,strong characters.Four women meet in a therapy group,Georgia,Roxie,Sara and MacKenzie. Each lady has her own issues,challenges,dreams,hopes and fears. They decide to go to Florence, Italy to heal and grow. They find themselves,with the help of each other, in Italy.This is a compelling story of a group of women who have issues,challenges,hopes,dreams,fears, capabilities and learn ab...more
Was an enjoyable read. Liked the setting in Italy.
Brea Essex
I have to admit, I had a difficult time getting into this one. It was worth it to keep reading. I've always loved Italy (I'm part Italian myself) and have always wanted to visit. G.G. Vandagriff did a fantastic job of bringing Italy alive. I loved the diversity of the characters and following along their individual stories as they helped each other heal. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. This first book has definitely prompted me to plan a trip to Italy--eventu...more
The setting for "The Only Way to Paradise" is Florence, Italy. The characters spring to life within a few pages, drawing the reader in and touching the soul. The story weaves a powerful message around the different forms of love needed to bridge emotional hang-ups and deep-seated traumas for each of the four women. Everything comes together in one great read – dazzling scenery, smells, sounds, feelings – all rendered in perfect cadence and with splendid Italian ambiance. A superb read.
I enjoyed the characters and setting in this story. The author's descriptions made me want to visit Florence sooner rather than later. The miscommunication between MacKenzie and Kurt with it's ensuing consequences frustrated me. So much misunderstanding that one simple conversation could have cleared up. I did enjoy getting to know the "Crazy Ladies of Oakwood" and look forward to reading more in the series.
Ann Marie
I really loved this book. I don't know if it was the book or the setting however. It was set in Florence and I knew all of the places they talked about and could visualize them. I also loved the characters. They had some very serious problems and I wasn't certain I believed all of the outcomes that happened so quickly. I will definitely read more in this series.
Each of the four main characters had serious issues they were dealing with. It was a little overwhelming at times. I think I would have liked better a seperate book about each of them rather than cramming them all into one book. Having said that, this book was still enjoyable and I liked how the author drew parallels to Enchanted April.
Reminiscent of "Enchanted April", this book relates the stories of four very different women who hardly know each other and their time of healing in Florence, Italy. Their tales reinforced for me the power of love and compassion. How fortunate one is if you are surrounded by both!
I was intrigued by the crazy ladies of Oakwood. They all decide to go to Italy on the spur of the moment, and for some it's the therapy they need, for others, it triggers episodes, but they all get through it and learn something about themselves. I really enjoyed it.
The best part of this book is the setting - who doesn't love Italy? It almost deserves an extra star just for that, but overall this was a book that I enjoyed but that didn't bowl me over (well, I was bowled over by the need to go back to Italy.....).
I love the setting in Florence. Each of four women have life challenges and emotional issues. They just start to deal with them in this book. It sounds like there will be other books.
Jan 31, 2012 Sara added it
This was a beautiful story of healing and dealing with the hard times in life. And it took place in Florence-one of my favorite cities in Europe and now I'm dying to go back!!
I loved the setting - Florence, Italy and the character development was good. But too many happy endings doesn't seem realistic, especially with some of the story lines.
What a good book and glad to recommend. The ladies going to Florence was good for them and made changes for the most part that were for the good.
This was an interesting book. The characters were very interesting. I am looking forward to reading further sequels in this series.
Judy Bullard
Author should stick with historical fiction! I loved her other books.
I loved her take a similar Enchanted April experience.
Good, I liked it overall.
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I realize that I am one of those rare people in the world who gets to live a life full of passion, suspense, angst, fulfillment, humor, and mystery. I am a writer. Everyday when I sit down to my computer, I enter into world of my own making. I am in the head of a panoply of characters ranging from a nineteen year-old Austrian debutante (The Last Waltz) to a raging psychopath (The Arthurian Omen) a...more
More about G.G. Vandagriff...
The Last Waltz The Arthurian Omen Tangled Roots Cankered Roots Poisoned Pedigree

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“That's life, MacKenzie. We can't go back, only forward. And we can't afford to waste the past. The best we can do is reframe it. We only have so many years on this earth. They all count.” 2 likes
“Remember the Duomo," he said.
"Bruneschelli just proceeded brick by brick. He never knew what he would do from one day to the next. He worked in faith, and according to the legend he never doubted that the next step to creating the world's first dome would be given to him in the moment that he needed it. He never saw the end from the beginning. None of us do.”
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